A parent’s guide to surviving genetic testing…

Today was the day of J’s genetic test. It’s done by a simple blood test. But there really isn’t such a thing as ‘simple’ with a toddler, is there?

I hate needles! I tried not build today up as I didn’t want J picking up on my anxiety. So, I just said we were off to Rainbow hospital (this is the children’s part) and off to the car we went. This was J’s first proper blood test so I had no idea what to expect. So, I thought I’d post a little ‘guide blog’ for any families who are due to go through this too.

What actually happens?

The blood test is taken from the hand. You get a choice of either a numbing spray or ‘magic cream’. We went with the spray as it is quicker and with J’s dislike of certain textures I could imagine he would kick off at the cream.

I was asked to hold J so he was straddled and facing me. He could see the Tv (they had Thomas the Tank Engine playing) and with his ‘spare arm’ he could play with the toys. Then two of the hospital staff had his other arm-one to hold and one took the blood. Then the plaster was added and it was over. It sounds so simple doesn’t it. J did really well. He was more bothered about being held still than the actual blood test (thanks to the numbing spray) so it wasn’t a peaceful or quiet affair. It’s hard having to restrain your child when instinct tells you to make it all stop and comfort them. It felt like it was taking ages but in actual fact it was a couple of minutes for the actual blood to be taken.

Hints and tips

  • Take a friend or family member (I took my fab bff as hubby was at work). I didn’t know how I would be as I hate needles so having a spare person meant if I wussed out someone else was there that J trusted. Also, it helped with distracting J whilst I held him.
  • Take distractions. You know what interests your child. I packed snacks and had fire engines ready on my phone. We didn’t actually need them as the hospital provided some great things but it’s good just in case.
  • Plan the timing (if possible). I choose a time where I knew J wouldn’t be tired and grizzly or hungry and stroppy. This meant I knew he’d be more ‘compliant’. If you can’t choose the time of your test then maybe plan your day a little different such as when to have food, have an earlier nap etc.
  • Do what you know helps your child…for J it’s counting. When I count to 10 he calms. When the restraint became too much I counted to 10 and backwards. He relaxed and it helped the blood test go quicker and easier. If you know your little one has a particular way they like/dislike something then tell the staff. You are the one who knows your child best.

So now…

Now we wait. Genetics tests can take 6-8 weeks. It feels a year away but at least we’re on count down to a possible answer. The results come in the form of a letter and you then discuss the results at your next professional meeting (for us, this was the paediatrician).

The best part of today was the ambulance crew outside the hospital inviting J to have a look inside. J ‘drove’ the ambulance and had a nosey in the back. He is a very happy boy and it meant he left with positive memories of the hospital.

If you have any questions I am also happy to answer as best as I can. You’re welcome to comment below or come find us on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. If you’d like to find out more about our journey please click on the Autism Category.

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